Mea culpa

Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that translates into English as "my mistake" or "my fault". To emphasize the message, the adjective "maxima" may be inserted, resulting in "mea maxima culpa," which would translate as "my most [grievous] fault."



The origin of the expression is from a prayer of confession of sinfulness used in the Mass of the Roman Catholic Church known as Confiteor (Latin for "I confess"), of which the first evidence dates from shortly before 1100. The phrase "mea culpa" appears in the prayer from the 16th century.[1] The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite text of the prayer is (with the new approved 2010 ICEL English translation, soon to be put into use) :

Confíteor Deo omnipoténti et vobis, fratres,
quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo, ópere et omissióne:
mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa.
Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Vírginem,
omnes Angelos et Sanctos, et vos, fratres,
oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum.
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.[2]

The text in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (pre-1970) is (with unofficial English translation):

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et tibi Pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et te Pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum Nostrum.
I confess to Omnipotent God, to Blessed Mary ever Virgin, to Blessed Michael the Archangel, to Blessed John the Baptist, to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the angels and Saints, and to you Father: that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word and deed: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, Blessed Michael the Archangel, Blessed John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, Father, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Those saying the prayer beat their breast at the italicized words. The pre-1970 Roman Missal specified that that should be done three times. Anglican Missals have the same prayer.[citation needed]

Popular meaning

In the popular vernacular, the expression "mea culpa" is an admission of having made a mistake by one's own fault (one that could have been avoided if the person had been more diligent). It may be used even in trivial situations: if a sports player, for instance, admits that his team lost a game because he missed an opportunity to score, this may be called a "mea culpa", meaning that he admitted his mistake, which he could have avoided (at least in theory), and that resulted in a subsequent evil. In some countries, phonetic versions of the phrase are used with the same meaning. For instance, in Slovene, the phrase "Moja Kolpa" is often used, sounding almost the same, but literally meaning closer to "My problem". In modern American slang, the phrase "my bad" has a similar meaning.

See also


  1. ^ Fortescue, A. (1908). Confiteor. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 4, 2009 from: New Advent
  2. ^ From the 2010 ICEL Translation

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • mea-culpa — [ meakylpa ] n. m. inv. • 1560; mot lat. « par ma faute » ♦ Loc. Faire son mea culpa : avouer sa faute, s en repentir. ● mea culpa nom masculin invariable (mots latins tirés du Confiteor, signifiant par ma faute) Aveu de la faute commise ; coup… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • mea culpa — ⇒MEA( )CULPA, (MEA CULPA, MEA CULPA) subst. masc. inv. [Dans le rituel catholique de la confession, ou p. allus. à ce rituel] Aveu contrit d une faute que l on a commise, d une erreur que l on a faite. Des humilités de Tartufe, des mea culpa, des …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Mea Culpa — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mea culpa — (lateinisch meine Schuld) sind Worte aus dem Schuldbekenntnis Confiteor (Ich bekenne…), das seit dem 11. Jahrhundert in der katholischen Kirche gesprochen wird: „Confiteor … quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, opere et omissione: mea culpa,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mea culpa — (рус. моя вина), mea maxima culpa (рус. моя величайшая вина)  формула покаяния и исповеди в религиозном обряде католиков с XI века. Этимология Выражение происходит от первой фразы покаянной молитвы Confiteor, которая читается в Римско… …   Википедия

  • mea culpa — Loc. lat. que significa literalmente ‘por mi culpa’. Se usa como fórmula para reconocer una culpa o error: «En la actualidad, mea culpa, sigo sin toga y muceta profesorales» (Laín Descargo [Esp. 1976]). Como locución nominal masculina,… …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • mea culpa — mea cụl|pa (es ist) meine Schuld, ich bin schuldig [lat., „durch meine Schuld“] * * * mea cụl|pa [lat.]: [durch] meine Schuld; ich bin schuldig (Ausruf im Confiteor). * * * Mea culpa   Das am Beginn der katholischen Messe stehende so genannte… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Mea culpa — puede referirse a: Mea culpa, una locución latina. Mea culpa, un programa de televisión chileno conducido por Carlos Pinto. Esta página de desambiguación cataloga artículos relacionados con el mismo título. Si llegaste …   Wikipedia Español

  • mea culpa — (Loc. lat.); literalmente, por mi culpa ). expr. Culpa mía. U. m. c. loc. sust. m. Entonará un mea culpa público …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • mea culpa — {{hw}}{{mea culpa}}{{/hw}}locuz. s. m. inv. 1 (relig.) Formula del Confiteor con cui il fedele ammette la propria colpa. 2 (est.) Ammissione delle proprie colpe: recitare il mea culpa …   Enciclopedia di italiano

  • mea culpa — лат. (мэа кульпа) мой грех, моя вина; по моей вине. Толковый словарь иностранных слов Л. П. Крысина. М: Русский язык, 1998 …   Словарь иностранных слов русского языка

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